Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Understanding identity building: Eight guiding principles

Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française


Educational activities that help build identity must have an educational purpose. A well-defined purpose must be based on fundamentals that have proven to be successful and that take into account today’s reality. Drawing on the expertise of its partners and collaborators, the Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française (ACELF) has identified eight guiding principles that can be used to develop educational activities. The guiding principles are all equally important and relevant. However, their relevance may vary depending on the context or the purpose of a specific initiative.

  1. Become part of the contemporary Francophonie

    Educational activities must foster a contemporary view of Canadian and international Francophonie. They must therefore avoid a simplistic discourse and promote open and genuine dialogue. Although they are based on our Francophone heritage—cultural and social values and traditions, etc.—educational activities must be tuned into globalization, that is, they must foster not only a sense of belonging to the Francophonie but also an openness to global and contemporary realities. Educational activities must speak broadly to today’s Francophones, who also see themselves as citizens of the world. This principle must be reflected in the objectives of the activities, in the type of activities proposed, in their content, and in the technology and vocabulary used.

  2. Focus on creativity and innovation

    In terms of their meaningfulness and appropriateness, educational activities must be based on an innovative process that requires a good knowledge of current resources and practices. They must also be based on a study of real needs in the community. What is more, the activities must take into account current university research in Francophone education. In terms of their implementation, educational activities must favour a modern approach – for example, by using the immense potential of new technologies whenever appropriate. They must promote creative self‑expression and encourage original thinking and the construction of meaning. They must also motivate the community to participate actively. Rooting the activities in the community’s lived experiences fosters its creativity and contributes to sustainability, since the community thus benefits from a tailored and reusable product.

  3. Promote diversity

    Educational activities must be based on a clear definition of diversity: the diversity of individuals and their needs, the diversity of the country’s Francophone communities and their needs, the diversity of origins, and the diversity of social, cultural, religious, historical and geographical contexts. They must foster genuine acceptance of these diversities, through mutual respect for differences and through compromise. They must also be based on a clear understanding of how their implementation impacts the community.

  4. Foster co-operative action involving the family, community and school

    Educational activities must foster co-operative action involving the social environments in which the individual is immersed: family, school and local community. They must encourage early childhood services, health care services and schools to be an integral part of the community, and they must motivate the local community to put itself at the very heart of learning and educational environments in general. Educational activities must also ensure that these social environments are united in their efforts. They must bring these environments together in harmony so that life experiences can be stabilizing, meaningful and lasting. 

  5. Develop a positive connection with the French language

    Educational activities must foster a positive connection with the French language by providing individuals not only with traditional role models, but also with contemporary ones who define and express themselves in French and who are respected in social, economic and cultural spheres. They must foster a secure connection with the French language by highlighting the activities of accessible role models who come, whenever possible, from young people’s immediate environment. They must emphasize French as a living language, its importance, its usefulness and its effectiveness, without denying the prominence of English. They must encourage the celebration of the French language as a way to discover oneself, to grow and to have fun, while recognizing that ultimately, linguistic identity is a personal choice and cannot be imposed by the community.

  6. Establish links within the Canadian Francophonie

    Educational activities must promote relevant and effective networking among Francophone communities throughout the country, at all levels and in all sectors of community life. They must foster exchanges within the Francophonie that result in greater mutual understanding and greater awareness of lived realities and of successful practices so that future action may be convergent. In order for communities to develop such links, the educational activities must focus on what these communities share, on what unites them and on the avenues they can explore in order to build together.

  7. Encourage mobilization

    Educational activities must promote mobilization and participation. They must foster a proactive dialogue between participants and communities. They must focus on what the various Francophone communities have in common to help them find common solutions for common problems and to overcome challenges together. They must promote solidarity and co-operation, take into account the expertise of other Francophone individuals and organizations, and foster a concern for collaborative communication that makes an appropriate transfer of initiatives possible.

  8. Target lasting effects

    Educational activities must target lasting change by supporting initiatives that can be used over and over. They must be effective, that is, they must allow thought, action and will to go deeper and further and to be sustained over the long term. They must help in training agents of change who are able to trigger a lasting process of innovation, generate concrete projects and provide a new guard that will ensure a multiplying and lasting effect. They must foster personal growth and the development of community leadership that will inspire individuals to participate voluntarily, take responsibility, make a concrete commitment to the Francophonie and invest in it.

The complete fascicle on the eight guiding principles of identity building as well as the other fascicles in the Comprendre la construction identitaire series are available in French on the ACELF’s website, under Outils d’intervention (www) English Hyperlink Notice (Available only in French).